The Best Movies (from the past) For Getting Over Your Ex

February 28, 2017

Our goal here is simple: to help you curate the perfect Rolodex of movies that will help you deal if or when things with your loved one fall apart. And, to help us in our quest for catharsis, we’ve consulted the very academic Kübler-Ross model of handling grief, which divides the process into five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (because, above all else, we here at Refinery29 are nothing if not academics, of course).
There are many different types of breakup movies: the ones that are actually about breakups in the literal sense and the ones that deal with the different stages of breakups metaphorically. For instance: (500) Days of Summer. That’s about breakups. The Hours, on the other hand, is about handling grief, an emotion that occurs after any loss — especially the loss of a relationship. Because a list of breakup movies exists around every corner of the Internet, we’re digging deeper into the films that will help you cope with those separations in a far less overt but no less helpful way.
Movies, above all else, are therapeutic. The best ones allow us to relieve, relive, or re-evaluate our most tender experiences in a way that no other art form can. Click through to see our picks for the films that will aid you in getting through every one of those five stages — and straight on to renewal.
Sliding Doors (1998)
In one version of reality, Gwyneth Paltrow’s character makes it onto a subway car by a second. In another version of reality, she misses the train. Following her down both paths, the movie envisions how her lives go on different tracks from that split-second instance. It’ll remind you of life’s unpredictability, and how this period of pain might be paving the way for something better down the line.
The Reader (2008)
Hey — at least your ex wasn't a former Nazi guard who finds herself on trial for the murder of hundreds of innocent people.
Crazy Stupid Love (2011)
When life throws you a lemon, toss it, and go make out with Ryan Gosling.
To Have Or Have Not (1944)
Channel your inner Lauren Bacall and go out on the town. You don't need anyone to tell you what to do.
Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015)
Take heart in the knowledge that though you may be single, you aren't dating a sociopath with a penchant for painful sex.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Any version of this Jane Austen classic will do the trick, but we suggest the 2005 adaptation starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett and Matthew Macfadyen as a very broody, very sexy Mr. Darcy.
The Graduate (1967)
Breakups are tough. But the guy you're seeing cheating on you with your mother? That's some heavy shit.
2 Days In Paris (2007)
No matter how painful the breakup, it's probably better than introducing your non-French speaking American boyfriend to your sexually-liberated parents and a slew of exes. Sometimes, schadenfreude is the best remedy for heartbreak.
Bridesmaids (2011)
BridesmaidIf spending time with your best friends is a crucial part of getting over an ex, then why not spend it with a group of fictional characters who are sure to distract you from your pain for at least two hours? Plus, if you just got out of a crappy relationship, it's helpful to see what a good one looks like. (Sup, Chris O'Dowd?)
Great Expectations (1998)
Yes, in the end, Finn and Estella end up together, kind of. But Finn spends his entire life being punished by Paltrow's Estella and the Miss Havisham-styled Anne Bancroft, and he leads himself to incorrectly believe he can make himself be what she wants. In this version of Great Expectations, Finn denies that Estella is only there to break his heart, and it's true: Estella is only won when no one else wants her. 
Brooklyn (2015)
Sometimes, the hardest part of a breakup is starting over. It's learning how to get up in the morning and not talk to your former partner and how to make plans that involve only yourself. As such, this can also be the most depressing part of a split. So, if you need an affirmation that you will come out the other end of this a better, more confident person, watch Eilis immigrate from Ireland to 1950s New York.
 Celeste & Jesse Forever (2002)
They say you should marry your best friend. But what if you marry that person only to realize that you're better off as, well, best friends? This movie explores that heartbreaking grey area between a friendship and a relationship. Watch it. Cry a lot. Feel better about your breakup.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
There’s nothing sadder than watching someone refuse to accept the end of a relationship, but that’s what makes the burgeoning romance between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s manic lovebirds so darn powerful. It's only once Cooper’s character learns to let go of the woman who abandoned him that he can see the woman who’s standing right in front of him.                                                                                  
She-Devil (1989)
Imagine the premise of The Other Woman, except, instead of the pretty and palatable Cameron/Leslie/Kate trio, you have a maniacal Roseanne Barr with an angry mole. After being treated horribly by her husband, Barr's Ruth goes after her husband's four assets — home, family, job, and freedom — taking down the campy, WASP-y Meryl Streep (who is in true comedic form), who stole her husband. Brutal, evil, and demonstrative that hell hath no fury.
My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
Watching Julia Roberts play a woman who wants what she can’t have is like watching a cow go swimming. It’s not supposed to happen. But, as a lifelong careerist pining for her best friend as he plans his, duh, wedding, Roberts convinces us that falling in love with the wrong person is just as hard as it sounds.
Legally Blonde (2001)
There is one major takeaway from Legally Blonde: The best revenge is busting your ass to challenge yourself, meeting your goals, exploring new ventures, and not changing who you are in the process. So, you know, do that.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
stella got her groove backTerry McMillan's life-affirming tale of a middle-aged divorcée (Angela Bassett) who (what else?) gets her groove back is the kind of movie that will convince you that sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side. Especially when the other side is made up of a wise-cracking Whoopi Goldberg, the sun-drenched island of Jamaica, and Taye Diggs with his shirt off.
 Click here to discover more great films from Refinery 29's list

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